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Chasing China

U.S. is concerned about threats from Chinese space program, leaked documents show

The United States is concerned about potential threats from adversarial space programs, particularly China, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. 

Top-secret intelligence documents obtained by the Post reportedly said that China had developed the capabilities "to hold key U.S. and Allied space assets at risk." Another document said that China would deploy these capabilities in a potential military conflict with Taiwan, the Post reported. 

This would include the use of Chinese satellites to jam enemy communications, the Post said, allowing them to "destroy ballistic missile early warning satellites." China has also recently built its own space station, and NASA previously warned that the country wants to claim resource-rich parts of the moon by building its own lunar bases. This could lead to a possible territorial dispute on the moon. 

The documents also shed some light on the American view of Russia's space program. While China's space program appears to be humming, U.S. intelligence feels that their Russian counterparts will "very likely will diminish during the next decade." This is in part due to American sanctions, increased global competition from private space companies, and the rise of SpaceX, the Post added. 

These new reports came from a cache of documents allegedly leaked to a Discord chat room by Massachusetts Air National Guard Jack Teijeiro. The files offer a broad view of how the Defense Department views its adversaries' space programs. 

The leaked reports come just one week after Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman said during a conference that space is now defined by "increased competition from adversaries able to execute space-enabled attacks on our forces in air, land and sea." 

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall echoed a similar warning, saying that China "has doubled the number of their satellites just since the U.S. Space Force was established. Now they have over 700 operational, with approximately 250 dedicated to [surveillance]."